Anyone who watched Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting from 1983 to 1994 knows the show had a bit of a surreal quality to it. With that soft voice, reduced often to a whisper, Ross slapped some paint onto the canvas, smeared it around, and eventually something magical appeared–a mountain, a stream, a forest, whatever. Nowadays, the show has experienced something of a renaissance and achieved cult status. 30 seasons of The Joy of Painting live on YouTube (legitimately, it seems), and they’ve become fodder for creative projects that take Bob Ross to new surreal heights. Exhibit 1, “Deeply Artificial Trees,” appears above.
This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD (once someone invents digital drugs). It shows some of the unreasonable effectiveness and strange inner workings of deep learning systems. The unique characteristics of the human voice are learned and generated as well as hallucinations of a system trying to find images which are not there.
For a little on the science of artificial neural networks, see this related item in our archive: What Happens When Blade Runner & A Scanner Darkly Get Remade with an Artificial Neural Network.
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